Captain Morgan heeds Starc warning ahead of showdown
Eoin Morgan prepared for the threat of Mitchell Starc by batting against a trio of left-arm pace bowlers in the nets at Edgbaston yesterday as England began the biggest week of their careers in a relaxed mood.
Warwickshire provided three left-arm pacemen for an optional net session to try to replicate facing Starc and Jason Behrendorff, the two bowlers who shared nine wickets when Australia blew away England at Lord's two weeks ago.
Morgan was bounced out by Starc at Lord's and the Australia fast bowler, the tournament's leading wicket-taker, said he would continue to use the short stuff against the England captain.
The mind games began as soon as Australia lost their final group game to South Africa on Saturday, which condemned them to play at Edgbaston, a ground England consider their fortress.
Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon insisted the World Cup was England's to lose, in an attempt to shift the pressure on to a team who do not react well to being considered favourites.
It was gentle, knockabout stuff compared to Aussie goading of the past but Joe Root said England would ignore it.
"Look back at when (Glenn) McGrath played and '5-0'," said Root, referring to the legendary Australian bowler's traditional Ashes result prediction.
"It's just part and parcel of when you play against Australia. That's how they like to prepare themselves, get themselves ready and we will go about it in our own way."
Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson encouraged his front-line batsmen to play with freedom in today's semi-final against India at Old Trafford as they bid to overcome their struggle for rhythm in the Cricket World Cup.
Not surprisingly, Williamson is New Zealand's leading scorer after the group stage with 481 runs from eight matches at a 96-plus average.
Williamson said his fellow batsmen had struggled to adjust to diverse English conditions where a winning total can vary greatly according to the state of the pitch on the day.
"We were certainly expecting that it would be tough.
"But what we didn't quite expect coming into the tournament was the large variety of conditions that we faced," Williamson said.
"I know the guys are really excited by the opportunity to go out and try and play with that freedom that when we do gives us the best chance."
New Zealand finished their group campaign with a hat-trick of defeats but still claimed the last semi-final berth. The 2015 finalists will hope to begin afresh on today, their captain said.
"It all starts again where the day comes and anything can happen and all sides have beaten one another on a number of occasions throughout the last few years, so it is a really exciting opportunity for all teams." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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